Saturday, 18 December 2010

Grab a bargain!

The Caring Christmas Trees team of volunteers, probably 20 people today have battled through the snow and ice to get every tree to the right place. Thank you Thank you!

There are a few trees left due to the bad weather as we didn't have much passing trade as the snow engulfed South East London. Hence there are still 11 trees up for grabs. If you would like a tree and can offer a reasonable amount you can pick up a bargain, we have 4ft, 1 5ft and a few 8ft's left. Must pick up from King's Church Centre ideally during the Carol services tomorrow! Cash only

Grab a bargain!

Monday, 13 December 2010

Waiting Patiently

My operation is now due to be next Monday. Which means that I will be resting over the Christmas period. This year there will be no long walks, runs or bike rides. Waiting for this operation to happen has required patience and could yet require further patience if the weather causes a further delay. I didn't feel cross with the hospital last week, I know it will happen at some point, hopefully next week.

Before next Monday the King's Carol services happen over the weekend. The carols services at King's are simply fabulous. Balancing traditional carols and readings with creative performance, dance and drama, it is a great Christmas event that works for both believers and unbelievers. I'm really looking forward to it!

Caring Christmas Trees requires patience. Customers don't buy trees when I most want them to. Sometimes the tree count ticks over quickly and at other times the count stubbornly refuses to change. Behind the scenes of CCT there are drivers and porters who deliver the trees to the sites and this year direct to customers homes. Last Friday I spent a couple of hours with this team organising the trees, bases and equipment and this requires great patience. But I love those mornings, the drivers and porters are really good guys and we work together to make Caring Christmas Trees a success.

I remember as a child in the days before Christmas being unable to contain my excitement and desperate for the day to arrive. But now I enjoy the days of preparation knowing that Christmas Day will arrive soon enough. This helps when I read the following bit of one of my favourite books in the bible, a section that I have grappled with for many years.
"For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently" Romans 8:24-25

For me, waiting for it patiently feels like an unsatisfactory way to wait. Surely it should read eagerly or with anticipation or with great desperation. However I have learnt that patiently communicates the total certainty that, for those who are in Christ, our hope is secure. It is not in doubt, it's not a 50/50 decision, not a will it happen or not type of waiting. It is as sure as Christmas Day will follow the 24th December. Patiently also communicates that God is above all, he is the architect of our lives. But patiently also means that we are constantly looking, eagerly watching and enjoying all of the journey towards the hope that is secure.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Lewisham Life

Lewisham Life is a free magazine that goes to every house in the borough and in the December edition Caring Christmas Trees are included. This article has brought us a lot of sales so far. I know because I have instant feedback on the 'how did you find out about CCT?' question. As yet there have been no references to Mumsnet though! (see 25 November blog)

If you fancy seeing the article click here

I'm still standing yeah yeah yeah

Well the operation didn't happen, but only just. I was in my hospital gown, psyched up for 6 weeks on crutches etc when I was told by the matron that there was no bed available for me after the operation and despite my desperate pleas that was that, no operation. Hence I am still standing, not trying to walk on crutches. I have no idea when the op will be, probably after Christmas. However 2 people were very happy with the operation not happening; my wife and Dave who is administrating the Caring Christmas trees. The Lord works in mysterious ways!

But in the meantime there are trees to sell and we will soon pass last years total (283). We are still aiming for a total of 400 sales. The photos above are from the Centre for Social Justice offices in Westminster where we dropped off a tree last Wednesday.

Well the England cricket team are standing tall after their innings victory. It's a great time to be an English cricket fan. Roll on the 3rd test and wait for more records to fall.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Getting my inner washer fixed!

On Monday I go into hospital for a long awaited knee operation. I am having a reconstruction of my ACL (acruciate ligament) and repairs to my cartilage, apparently I have damage to the inner washer! The ACL damage was a football injury and the inner washer damage in my cartilage was done whilst fielding in a family cricket match. Here are some of my thoughts.

I cycled home yesterday and thought it may be many months before I am cycling again and that is a sad thought.

It is odd not knowing how much I will be able to do after the operation. I know I will be on crutches for at least 6 weeks but I don't know whether I am winding down for the Christmas holidays or if this a pause before the storm of Christmas activities.

I am really glad to be having the operation during the dark winter months and then hopefully I will be running, cycling and swimming in the summer. I would love to be able to go camping and mountain climbing in the Easter holidays.

In the meantime I will adapt to a different pattern of life at home and work. There is always much to learn and I will look forward to what God has for me during the weeks of recovery. There will be less rushing, I will need to invest more time in people and then delegate, I will try to read more and of course I will enjoy England's tour of Australia!

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Record Breaking Cricket

The time has come to respond to pressure from some readers of this blog who were unimpressed by my quick dismissal of England's Ashes chances after the 1st day of play. I was delighted to wake up on day 4 and 5 of the test and hear that England have batted their way back into the match, the series and I was told in every article the history books!

In fact cricket is one of those sports that thrives on records and statistics. It seems that every test has a new record in it. It is true that records keep dull tests interesting! For example Siddle takes a hat-trick against England, but it is also his birthday. So this story becomes that he is the first person every to take a hat-trick on their birthday! Obviously there are lots of records. Each ground, country, wicket and player have their own records. I want to know if there has ever been a test when there hasn't been a new record!

ohh, I may have strayed back into being the pessimistic cricket fan that got me a few comments from the last blog. But hey, to keep my cricket loving readers happy; I will be less hasty in despairing when the morning news is disappointing. I will stay positive, I promise!

The thing about the Ashes in Australia is that due to it taking place overnight you only get to hear the state of the match once a day. I miss the hour to hour, session to session swings of momentum that take place. Actually England are now well placed to do very well in the series. A quick plug for a great cricket blog written by my cousin Will, who never doubted England even after the 3rd day, called Not Another Cricket Blog

Come on England - I knew you could do it! You're the record breaking team!

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Strange days.

I joined Mumsnet yesterday!, started 10 years ago and is, judging by others, an influential website. I joined because I wanted to advertise the Christmas Trees, especially in the Beckenham area. But as I joined I felt like an impostor, was I allowed to join a mum's website? It felt a bit too creepy so I opted for using my wife's details (with her permission of course). Time will tell if mumsnet delivers tree sales or not. But so far the new site is going well, it has the 2nd best sales total so far.

But following my entry into the world of mumsnet I went to an Internet safety talk at my son's school. I was again reminded of the strange world of Internet identity. In fact one of the recommendations for young people is that they don't tell anyone about themselves, using a different name and a distorted picture (a Simpson's character for example). So perhaps the way of the Internet is to pretend to be someone you are not.

Talking of someone that you are not - last night I met a man who is rough sleeping in Lewisham and he came to this country aged 9 from an African country. Mother was born in England, father born in Africa. He was taken into care from 12 onwards. But now at age 23 he is not sure if has a right to remain. This means no benefit and no option of housing except through friends. If this story is true it is another example of the strange ways that our society works. People can live here for 14 years, be educated, get care through social services, go to our prisons, have a National Insurance number BUT the person still doesn't know if he has a right to remain. How strange is that!

Thankfully the cricket (England versus Australia) is not at all strange. It has followed the same pattern as many previous tours. How many times do we go into the Ashes tour in Australia with over inflated optimism, only to wake after the first days play to hear that it the same old story - the Aussies are on top!

This evening I am going to a dinner at Lord's Cricket Ground - now it doesn't get stranger than that!

Sunday, 21 November 2010

The Allen's new house - A Competitive Spirit

I didn't expect to win the Romanian quiz last night so I was delighted to finish in 3rd place (thanks to the rest of the team, including my son). However, I often make new 'competitions' out of ordinary situations I find myself in. Sometimes these are in my mind but often they are out loud, so I obviously make them achievable.

I won the competition against the foxes. They have not returned to the shed, in fact I have not seen them in my garden at all. Perhaps someone took my advice and has hunted them down. Following the fox blog, someone suggested that urinating in the garden gets rid of unwanted foxes but, thankfully, I have not had to resort to these sorts of tactics. (Yet!)

I worked with someone who managed to make the aimless task of shredding paper into a competition. The aim was not to let the machine stop in between putting paper in. In order to achieve this, you had to keep a constant stream of paper entering the machine. Try it; it is not as easy as you might think.

But the new house has created some other competitions. The first is what being a Dad is all about. It goes like this: the children wake up and put on as many lights as they can, I then try to turn them off faster than they can turn them back on again. And the second is that the new house has windows that produce the largest amount of condensation I have ever seen. The game on this one is to see if I can wipe the windows before pools of water appear on the sills.

I am very competitive about the Christmas Tree count and constantly compare us against the other sites. If you want to play, you have to buy a tree first and then look at the Christmas Tree website. The rules against Edinburgh are that we need to reach 10% of their total.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Danny MacAskill - "Way Back Home" - NEW street trials riding short film

Stunning bike stunts

Before I return to the "Changes to the Welfare system" (it takes me a long time) here is a great clip to enjoy which includes both stunning bike stunts and wonderful Scottish scenery.

Although how did they manage to film with such good weather? Amazing the stunts that can pulled off.

Also as I was cycling home, weaving through the traffic, rain falling, people getting in the way I imagined doing a few stunts to speed up the process of getting home...

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Changes to the Welfare System part II

The plan is for the universal credit to replace all the current out-of-work benefits and in-work support. Well let me focus on just one aspect of this, the intention to pay this new benefit on a monthly basis. WOW where do I start. I can only start with some negative comments before I try and find something positive about this idea. Here goes.

1. The amount of money people will have in one go. Currently JSA pays £128 per fortnight so a monthly payment at the same rate that means £277 each month. Imagine the damage that can be caused with that much money! Please let's have some common sense and don't do this.

2. The normal budgeting plan of the people I work with is spend all their "pay" within a quick a time as possible. Spend! Spend it so fast that by the end of the day it has all gone. On a fortnightly payment basis there is then only 13 days to endure before the same process happens again.

3. It is claimed that it will bring those on benefit in line with regular payment method of once a month. Most research shows that we are borrowing far more money than we should. There is nothing special about being paid monthly, it doesn't make people sensible about money! If benefit is paid monthly there will be more borrowing which usually causes more arguments (if 'friends' are involved or more room for loan sharks to charge hugely inflated interest levels.)

4. The way that so many find out there is a problem with their claim is when their money does not appear in their account. Once a month means it will be harder to resolve problems that arise. Once every 14 days know the claim is still a live claim, with the changes once every 28/30/31 days a person will find out if there is a problem.

5. Another softener to this idea is to introduce budgeting help. Well there is a clever idea, why hasn't someone thought of that before! Seriously, most people on benefits need help with budgeting and I along with many others have tried to help. If the rest of a persons life is chaotic budgeting help is just a small part of the solution. Ian Duncan Smith is aware of this so I hope that he has enough influence to prevent the government pretending that a simple answer of budgeting advice alone will solve the problems for people on benefit.

And now for some positives

1. Good for loan sharks

2. I presume there are cost savings although with everything being electronic controlled I'm not sure of the extent of the savings.

- Well I'm totally out of positives. Any ideas?

Monday, 15 November 2010

My memory is not what it used to be. Also, my memory is not what it used to be.

This morning I forgot to attend a meeting. Yes, it was in my diary, I just did not remember. But that is nothing compared to what happened yesterday.

I was organising the Feast helpers' meal which followed the morning meetings at King's and someone (obviously an irresponsible person!) had left their car parked in the school car park. [This is where people who have been to either of the 2 morning meetings are meant to park their cars.] So at 1.30pm the car park helpers wanted to leave and because no-one owned up to owning the car they needed to lock the car in overnight. So I announced to the Feast helpers meeting (probably 3 times), "If anyone has a blue Corsa in the car park you must move it, it is going to be locked in!"

I was enjoying my roast dinner when half way through Rebekah turned to me and said, "It's your blue Corsa in the car park!" And, indeed, it was I who was the driver of the blue Corsa. The Feast team thought this was brilliant and probably remember nothing else from the lunchtime training.

The car belongs to my parents who were staying for the weekend and I had used it to get to King's in the morning.

My memory is not what it used to be.

Also, my memory is not what it used to be.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Changes to the Welfare System part I

The news has been dominated by changes to the welfare system. I have so many thoughts I shall have to post a number of blogs.

Before I start I like Ian Duncan Smith. I spoke to him once after he had given a speech that included him describing that he was disillusioned with the effect politician can have, he realised that most politicians live in the Westminster 'glass bubble' and therefore were unable to really change the social injustices in our society. I asked him when did he come to this conclusion expecting him to answer "after I had been party leader" he actually said "before he became party leader". He realised what many of us know, that the hundreds of communities of people offering local help were more effective at really changing lives.

So here is my responses so far to the coalition's welfare changes.

1. I do not get the Big Society concept. I know that it refers to the thousands of smaller charities and community groups doing fantastic work. But whilst during the May election, it provided profile for some groups I am at a loss to know how the coalition is meant to develop 'big society', the obvious answer is resourcing big society, financially and people, but there has been no mention of these things and this is not what i would expect from a conservative government. So whilst promoting big society as the answer to significant public sector job cuts sounds like economic sense to some - why pay someone when volunteers will do it for free - the reality is that big society is never promoted from national profile, it is about local people feeling compassion and responsibility for others. Therefore I don't think government is able to promote the concept. I lead a charity that would be under the 'big society' umbrella and it makes no difference to us. We are still the same, needing good people to give much (time, energy and resources) and striving for financial stability.

2. The Child Benefit change announced about a month ago made a great deal of sense. I remember many years ago Phillipa Stroud, who now works in the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) with IDS, explaining how surprised she was that child benefit was available to all. I do not understand why the previous government had not made a similar change to this benefit.

So whilst this change makes sense I fear that it has been implemented in a rushed way like most of the "austerity cuts" and welfare benefit changes . And then when you add the media scrutiny it means that once an announcement is made politicians cannot change their minds, they would fear for their jobs. This is daft because surely public consultation and wisdom in reflection brings a positive balance to planned changes. In this case it is the odd cut off point. If one person in a household is earning over £44K there is no benefit but if 2 earners earn £40K each (i.e. £80K) the household will still get the benefit.

Perhaps the pensioners winter fuel payment should be the next to be linked to need!

More to follow.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Carrying Christmas Trees

The Feast training session happens this Sunday after the 11.30 meeting. This involves a Roast dinner, yes it will be a fabulous dinner followed by the training. We will discuss the delights and challenges of the Feast. There will be opportunity for feedback and ideas for the future. Hopefully the afternoon will be inspiring and fun! We will finish at 3.30pm

We will mention Christmas Trees which now has sales in double figures for SE London, see or as my youngest child called it Carrying Christmas Trees. In fact you can carry Christmas Trees by becoming a volunteer, which means that you either help set up sites or be there at the distribution sites. This is a really fun role and the places will go very quickly so book in today. Please volunteer online at the volunteering page of

And also we will mention that Barclays Bank are going to put some money into the Feast Christmas party. Which is great! Some staff from the bank are coming to King's to run a money skills session on Wednesday 24th 2.00pm-5.00pm which will be a combination of how to training exercises such as budgeting and shopping plus planning how the money will be spent at the Christmas Party. If you would like to be involved in spending Barclays money helping homeless people have a fab Christmas Party please let us know. You can come along to the skills training session or send me an email with your best ideas.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Shoes off if you love the Villa!

I have followed the Villa for many years (I am typing this with a brummie accent) and yesterday I had a birthday treat by getting to see the boys play against Fulham. Craven cottage is a great ground to watch football although early in the 1st half when the ball was hoofed out of the ground by a Fulham defender it became clear that there was only one ball at Craven Cottage. Times are hard even in the West of London. It felt like a few minutes later that someone eventually managed to get the only ball back.

But the most surprising moment of the afternoon, apart from Fulham having a shot in the second half, was when I turned to see the massive Villa support who stood and sang throughout all waving their shoes in the air. This is totally true, hence the "shoes off if you love the Villa" chant. Apart from getting cold feet, football stadiums have come a long way that anyone would brave removing a shoe for fear of standing in all the rubbish fans leave behind. I never saw anyone on the Holte End in the 80's wave their shoe in the air. It was a spectacle with plenty of cameras being used to record it. Just wait for Sepp Blater and FIFA to find some way of banning this sort of behaviour.

Back to the game, 1-0 up at half time - super Marc Albrighton! Villa's dominant second half display lulled us into false euphoria that this was the easiest 3 points until the 94th minute Fulham scored, bubble burst. It felt like a defeat! Gutting, but I'd reconnected with all the passion of being a football fan. Even if I didn't take my shoes off.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

I still feel young!

Today is my 38th birthday. My children think I am very old and those I met at a gathering of the Newfrontiers London Church Leaders thought I was still very young!

I feel young, in fact when I am talking to anyone above the age of roughly 18 I can think that I am the same age as them. Ridiculous obviously but it is the way I think. In fact I find it a shock when I find out afterwards that I am 10, 15 years older than someone I met. And I think many other men do the same thing however I don't think women tend to do the same.

Yesterday I spoke with someone who was the same age as me. He was a Romanian man who was angry. He came to England in 1996 and twice he was caught and sent back to Romania but his third time he was successful. He got into England by climbing under a train getting onto a metal bar. I asked how do you stay on when the train is travelling at high speeds. The answer - He tied himself to the metal bar! He has a tough life, no benefit, limited work and rejection because he is Romanian and no right to remain. What a way to live and then 5 years ago his wife died. No wonder he was angry!

Talking of age and the Feast - it is always a great place to go to feel good for your age because so many people who come to the Feast have abused their bodies and sadly have aged much faster than they should. Hence people are really shocked that I have 4 children and (in their words) look so young. But they are even more shocked when I say I had all 4 children with the same woman!

I am looking forward to being 40 - I often think about what to do to celebrate that milestone. Perhaps a big mountain adventure in Scotland or to have a big joint 40th Birthday Party with Rebekah.

But I am looking forward to the next year, which I am sure will have plenty of adventures of its own!

Monday, 1 November 2010

Heroes and Villains

Yesterday I was a hero. With my 2 youngest children we built a fabulous piece of art. As we began the masterpiece my youngest said "this is my best day ever!!" and followed it by announcing that I was the "best Dad she had ever had" Daughter no.3 was very quick to remind her that I was the only Dad she has got. [Earthly at least]

As I was enjoying the praise, I got thinking about Heroes and Villains, knowing that it wouldn't take long before my daughters thought I wasn't so great. In fact this afternoon, about 24 hours from my moment of being the hero, one of my daughters told me,
"I wish Mummy was here."
"Why is that?" I asked
"Because she knows how to look after us properly!"

So I went from Hero to Villain in 24 hours

I got thinking about my heroes this year. The surgeon who removed the cancerous lump from Rebekah. This was best summed up by son who when he met the surgeon thanked him for saving his Mums life. Other heroes would be those who contributed to us moving house especially those who moved us! Or friends from our campsite who helped us take down our tent after I had damaged my knee and couldn't walk without crutches.

But these are heroic acts and for a passing moment these people are heroes, yet the only one who stands the test of time to be my true hero is Jesus. His heroic acts have daily impact and have no limit, no restrictions. He is the one who who is worthy of my full praise. He will always be my Hero.

Now I guess with a title like this, the more sports minded of you may be thinking I would be talking about the mighty Aston Villa who despite the 0-0 result against the Blues yesterday are still the best team in ... well definitely North Birmingham!

However the game was another reminder that Footballers are not genuine heroes and never will be!

Saturday, 30 October 2010

The Allen's new house - fox hunting in the city!

I have had a couple of days off this week which has given me the chance to familiarise myself with my new house - actually our rented new house, which is the wonderful opportunity given by a friend of ours to live in his lovely house for many years. We moved in about a month ago. During this week we have had lots of visitors to stay, so far 6 adults and 10 children - although not all at the same time! Although we did have at least 22 children at the same time last Saturday afternoon as our oldest 2 children had a house warming party. It was the noisiest thing that will ever happen in this house!

But one mystery I had to solve this week was how fresh animal poop was appearing in the shed at the bottom of the garden. At least I really hoped it was animal!

So yesterday I took everything out and found the hole at the back of the shed where the foxes were entering what they obviously considered to be their toilet! Thankfully there is enough wood inside the shed to build another shed and so with my limited DIY skills even I was able to stop the animal invasion. I was very pleased with my efforts or at least I will be if I don't walk into the shed today and smell the foul odour of more fox poop.

Having said that I will probably experience the foul smell on someones shoe today. The foxes use our front door step as their other toilet as i found out in the dark yesterday morning, well actually I found out much later in the morning but when I trod in it, it was still dark!

Which all proves that the fox needs a natural predator and I have come to conclusion that the humans need to show some backbone and resist these evil creatures.

Obviously cute baby foxes tumbling and playing in the garden are exempt from the slaughter!

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

"more of a home"

The Wednesday following our recent flat cleaning, the father stood up at the Feast and said Thank you for the help clearing his flat.

"My flat used to be a squat, now you have made it more of a home!"

There is more to be done and I am planning a return visit to keep some momentum with the family. If you would like to join a flat clearing session, please let me know.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Lionhearts first ever league game

This season I am coaching the Lewisham Lionhearts under 14s team. This is the first time Lionhearts have had an under 14s team hence the 1st ever league game. I had 20 players there on Saturday, which if you have ever coached football presents a huge challenge. They only had 10 players so we loaned them 2 players and therefore everyone got on the pitch for at least a few minutes. We held our own for 3/4 of the game until we faded, both physically and mentally. I was very impressed by our players but the players will be more aware now of the need to train, both skills and fitness. As a coach it was demanding to negotiate so many player with all their own expectations. But it was still great fun, I love it. By the way the end result was 10-2. Please say it quickly and quietly!

Friday, 22 October 2010

The Feast Video

The video is now on You tube - I hope you enjoy it.

The video will also be on the Caring Christmas Trees website. Have a look, show your friends.
Caring Christmas Trees website.

My highlights are the noise when we open the doors, Julie's talk, Kenny's dancing and Delores "Wotcha want to know?", Deano's list of what you can get from the Feast and Yvonne's worship. My lowlight is the voice over, I'll get someone different next time!


Thursday, 21 October 2010

Caring Christmas Trees website is live!

Yes you read it correctly - we are selling Christmas Trees in October. But as I write this there is a fab frost on the rooftops and lots of ice in my garden. It makes me feel Christmassy!

Please go to for all the information. Buy your Christmas tree online, you can do it today! Via the website you can tell your friends or volunteer to help distribute Trees. Prices for 4ft, 5ft and 6ft are the same as last year! There is an increase in the 7ft and 8ft trees.

There are a number of new features for SE London 2010!

1. We have a new site in beckenham!
2. We are offering delivery for customers, at a very competitive rate of £5.95 for individual customers.
3. We are also selling business trees to schools, churches and offices. These are being distributed on the 29th, 30th Nov and 1st Dec! The prices include delivery 4ft £38, 5ft £43, 6ft £48, 7ft £57 and 8ft £68
4. We are selling Nordman's (the UK's favourite Christmas Tree) rather than Fraser Firs. Frasers only grow at higher altitude so are not suited to Southern England where we are getting our trees from.
5. We are getting trees supplied from an award winning tree supplier with trees grown in Kent and Surrey rather than Scotland. Therefore we are reducing the distance the trees are transported.

Job Vacancies at the Passage

Housing Justice is pleased to advertise these two jobs based at The Passage, for projects relating to our work:

The Passage is recruiting for two new roles: Faith Groups Coordinator and a Street Outreach Worker

The Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) recognises the positive role Faith based organisations play in preventing and tackling homelessness and believes more could be done to further effective partnership working between Faith group providers and local authorities in this work. CLG, working in conjunction with Southwark Council, have therefore commissioned The Passage (a faith based provider of day and residential services to homeless people) to explore what positive steps could be taken towards this aim and have funding for one year for the two posts below.

A Faith Groups Coordinator (circa £40,000) – Fixed Term for 1 year
This post will work with statutory and voluntary Faith based groups, in particular day centres, to produce an action plan to assist greater partnership working in preventing and tackling homelessness, and also assist Housing Justice with their Winter Shelter programme and link in with the Olympics More than Gold initiative.
Candidates should have a proven track record of working at a strategic level with Faith based and statutory agencies in the delivery of day centre and accommodation provision for homeless people, experience and knowledge of ensuring the needs of homeless people are prioritised in the planning of events such as the Olympics, and experience of producing good practice guidelines ensuring the continuation and long term sustainability of initiatives at a grass root level.

A Street Outreach Worker (circa £25,000) – Fixed term for 1 year
This post will seek to support the work Housing Justice and Crisis are carrying out in further engaging street soup run providers to examine practical ways of working in partnership to best meet the needs of rough sleepers, building on recommendations made by the LSE in their independent research carried out into this area of work.
Candidates should have a proven track record of working with both voluntary Faith based and statutory agencies in providing street outreach services to homeless people, excellent communication and organisational skills, a willingness to work unsociable hours (including weekends) and be able to demonstrate a genuine solution focused approach to tasks.

Both posts will have a pan-London focus and potential candidates should email their CVs and cover letter to by 12 noon on the Wednesday 27th October 2010 outlining how they have the relevant skills and experience required for these posts.
Interviews will be held on the 3rd November 2010.

Friday, 15 October 2010

This is my church as well!

One angry man who had shouted very rudely was escorted out of the meeting by Deano, one of our regulars. Neither have ever been to any meeting at King's apart from the Feast. Deano dresses him down (in his very gruff voice) "don't you ever come in here and speak like that, don't you ever come into my church and shout at them!"

The angry man replied, "This is my church as well"

And I laughed!

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Well the blog is back, with a fresh look and with a wider view!

There will still be much about the Jericho Road Project but it will include much more as well. I will still post on Life in Catford, Christmas Trees and include job opportunities. But there might be more of my reflections on other issues such as news, sport, music, triathlon.

Well what has happened since the last blog?

I am due to have a knee operation on the 15th November - no excuse not to blog after that as I will be on crutches for weeks. Despite my knee being weak I am trying to get out on the bike as often as I can - I am limited in my walking and running is not an option - because I can and I guess it's strengthening the knee before the op.

Also Caring Christmas Trees website has gone live - please get ready to buy a tree, tell your friends and consider volunteering on one of the distribution days.

I moved house, there's enough material for a seperate blog entry there!

Plenty of stories of the Feast - we have even produced a short video and when I master the technology I will post it on the blog. Whilst I can't bear my voice on the clip there are some great bits, Kenny's dancing, Delores asking "What do you want to know?" and Deano's passionate talk.

This week we helped a family from the Feast to begin to clear their flat - perhaps a seperate blog entry story.

The blog is back!

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

CSJ Inner City Challenge

The following is taken directly from the CSJ monthly email.

CSJ staff take part in Inner City Challenges
Two members of CSJ staff took up Inner City Challenges last month. Kirsty Turnbull, Office Administrator, and Chris Perfect, Policy Researcher, both spent two days volunteering at exceptional grassroots poverty fighting organisations.
Kirsty Turnbull visited the Jericho Road Project in Catford, SE London, to work with a team dedicated to Lewisham's homeless. She volunteered in the outreach dinner, joining the charity's Director, Simon Allen, on a street walk to meet the homeless, and participated in the charity's group activities. "It was amazing," said Kirsty, "I'm now looking into charities I can volunteer at closer to home. The team and clients at the Jericho Road Project were inspirational."

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Conference in Brighton

David Stroud spoke at this week's conference on "how are we doing in caring for the poor?". Here is a copy of the note found on Adrian Warnock's blog. Worth a read!

Friday, 9 July 2010

Why should you care?

I have written this for my guest spot on Steve Tibberts blog but thought I would post it here first.

You don’t expect me to stop and look after someone in need. I like other people to do the stuff, just don’t ask me. I find that needy people drain me of energy. I don’t have the patience.

Does this describe how you feel sometimes?

When was the last time you stopped and listened to someone? I mean ‘listened to their story’.

Jesus told a story about inviting someone to spend time with you knowing that they cannot repay you. This was not conditional love – i.e. if you can pay me back I will offer you help. But it is open handed expressions of care that Jesus encourages us to do. Jesus says if they invite you back you will be repaid. BUT if you reach out to the Poor, crippled, lame and blind you will be BLESSED.

No.1 Get to know people. The widow on your street, the teenager who doesn’t fit in at school or church, the mother tearing her hair out in despair at her struggle to parent, the addict who is fixated on the next bit of gear. I spoke with a homeless girl last week who had suffered a mental health breakdown whose story was so sad or the rough sleeper who has been given a 6 month suspension on his personal benefits. There is often not an easy answer but we can always listen to people’s story.

No.2 Be willing to lose your ‘self’– you may miss your favourite TV programme or feel out of your depth, have your own faith questioned – Can God really help this person? Walk in Faith, pray for the person, practically help them.

The Blessing maybe a delayed blessing (it may be immediate!) but God is always true to his word – in the end, in the Kingdom economy – it is totally worth helping those in need.

Do you want to be repaid or BLESSED?

Friday, 2 July 2010

Significant moments

There are significant moments that define a week, a month or even a year. Today was a defining moment that I may well look back on in years to come. We have submitted revised rent levels to residents and to the Housing Benefit department. The financial change may well mean that we are not losing money each year and will hopefully give us the springboard for future ministry development. We are only scratching the surface of the needs of the community around us. Come on let's take enemy ground - every day. Today it is for the 35 year old women who is sleeping rough in Woolwich but waiting for a place in our housing project. She is the victim of injustice but in Jesus Christ, justice is restored.

Bikeathon update
The number of riders has risen to 16 and the current total of supporters is 321 and rising. This is a great achievement, I wonder if we will reach 500 supporters??

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

North Kent Bikeathon

Today Sean (who is also doing the Bikeathon) and I checked out the route and especially the altitude graph. Now some of you may think that Southern England is flat well let me tell you that the North Downs definitely go UP and DOWN. Some of the 14-16 (yes this is the Jericho Road Project so numbers can go Up and Down right up to Sunday morning) cyclists will not know what has hit them when they face the serious hills of North Kent. If you have not yet signed up to the £1 challenge it is not too late - already 243 people have given their support!

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Life in Catford 4

Last Friday I went to visit one of our houses in Murillo Road and it happened to be about 4 O'clock which I discovered is when the post school trouble is at its most visible. I passed Catford where there was a large police presence and a reasonable large crowd with mostly school children. I then travelled onto Lewisham where there was similar scene outside McDonalds only larger and had a more sinister feel to it, the police horse was in the middle of a large crowd. It felt like trouble at a Festival or after a football match when you can almost smell the tension in the air. Because of this the buses were all backed up and unable to move. Once again I was grateful for being on the bike and cycling free of the trouble.

Friday, 18 June 2010

The £1 challenge

On the 4th July I am taking a group of residents, ex residents and friends of the Project to take part in the North kent Bikeathon organised by the Catford Rotary Club. At the moment it could be anything between 10-13 although I am still recruiting! So if you want to get involved please let me know. The distance is 15 or 30 miles. We are raising funds for the leukaemia research and the Feast. But because I dislike sponsorship I am taking the pain out of sponsorship and limiting people to £1 only. The challenge is to see how many people will support us with their £1 rather than how much money can we raise. Please join the £1 challenge!

Tuesday, 15 June 2010


Yes we have reached the milestone of 1000 different people who have been to the Feast. It was probably a man called Patrick. We estimate that over the last 8 years we have served 18500 meals. It is a great achievement. Here's to the next 1000 people!

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Life in Catford 3

As a friend, who had lived in some of the major cities of the world, said Catford has the most police and ambulance sirens. Day and night the emergency services are working flat out. Yesterday this was what I saw on the way into work the morning traffic was stopped as a man was stretched away from what looked like being knocked down by a bus. Obviously the slighest hold up means that whole traffic system is messed up. Obviously accompanied by numerous sirens in the area.

I love my bike, it is the only way to really get about in South east London!

On the way home the centre of Catford is a scene of the police arresting a number of men outside the costcutter, which is a very common place for being arrested. So the lesson is if you are committing crime don't do it outside the costcutter! By the time I had travelled home (5-10 minutes) there was another police incident, where a car had been stopped.

Life in Catford ... it's noisy!

Friday, 11 June 2010

Go and learn

I am looking forward to preaching at Downham on Sunday morning - 10.30 start if you are interested in coming. I am speaking on Go and learn what is means to show Mercy - Matthew 9:9-13. It will be an opportunity to retell the story of the project, which always excites me but also an opportunity to consider the enormous Kingdom potential that we have in South East London. Caring for the neediest is a sure fire way to get to God's heart and keep the church on the front foot for reaching a broken and lost society.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

What makes the Feast so special?

How to explain the Feast - it is best said by those who come each week.

George likes “Ruth’s cooking, the room, the tablecloths and the fact that is not too rushed – when he is here he gets time to sit and relax.”

Ken said “Wonderful – If it weren’t for the church I would be dead!”

Peter said “the Feast makes you feel full up physically and spiritually.”

Rodney said “1st Class, warm welcome, hospitality, good friendship. Virtually trouble free. Mixed community. The Good news is spoken here.”

Friday, 23 April 2010

Feast running total

The Feast total now stands at 995 so we are very close to the 1000th person now. Probably in 2 weeks time.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Numbers at the Feast

Last night was a smaller Feast but there were 6 new people. This means that we have now reached 990 people who have been to the Feast since it started. So in the next few weeks we will reach the 1000.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Life in Catford 2 - Praying Man

Recently I walked out of the Housing Benefit office in Catford to hear the shouts of a man standing by the bus stops. I have never seen him before. He was shouting at people walking by, at the cars and especially a little old lady waiting patiently for her bus. As you may expect the language was unpleasant and often sexual in it's content. As I have come to expect no one does anything! People pass on by as if this is normal everyday behaviour - Fear results in silence.
I decide that I will talk to him. I am always friendly and confident when I talk to people like this. He immediately backs away and shouts very loudly,"you're a praying man, why do you pray to God" - at this point I'm thinking why does mental instability and openess to the spirit go so close -
[14 years ago on a train a man was running up and down the train throwing all the rubbish out of the windows and he was shouting loudly of course. When I spoke to him and introduce myself he replied, "you're not going to convert me"]
Somehow this abusive man in Catford was acting 'prophetically', that was until he called me and everyone else "a terrorist". At that point he walks across the road and began shouting at a new bunch of 'pray-ers and terrorists'

Thursday, 18 March 2010


At the Feast I keep a record of 'new people' and have been recording this since the Feast started in January 2002. The list of different people who have been has now reached 983, so in about 4 or 5 weeks we will reach 1000. I am planning a press release and we have started collecting comments about the Feast, which I will publish on the blog over the next few weeks.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Visit to the Bridge Project in Birmingham

Yesterday I went back to my 'home' city Birmingham and visited the wonderful Bridge Project. This is a 15 bed unit that has an excellent drug and alcohol rehabilitation programme. I was particularly interested in how it worked because it is only staffed Monday to Friday 8-5. Responsibility is given to the residents for locking up, responding to problems that happen out of the staff time. Random drug and alcohol testing happens 24/7 though. Please see their website for much more. I found that the Bridge is an excellently run project that is fuelled by faith. If we manage to get to opening a rehab I would definitely operate it on a non 24 hour staff basis.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Life in Catford 1

As I cycled to Lewisham yesterday, I realised that I miss being around the streets of Catford. I used to go out every week but recently I have been out far less. I just get to see people that I see nowhere else! Yesterday, for example, after passing a fight between 3 men (there was already a group of people shouting at them so this time I carried on cycling) I met a guy who I haven't seen in over a year, sadly he was yellow, his head and his eyes. (almost Simpson cartoon coloured - when I told my children they laughed that the Simpson's are alcoholics!) Seeing this guy was a sad sight but I was so pleased to see him again. My guess is that there is little hope for his life but I do know that he knows Jesus and therefore he has hope eternal!

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Why we have houses for the homeless!

Yesterday I was reminded of how important it is that we have houses for homeless people. We took in a new resident who was in such need of a safe place to stay and it was a delight that we were able to offer this person a room and support. Obviously I can't give many details but it reminded me of the importance of the housing project. It make a difference for people who are homeless or rough sleeping.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

JRP Training

This Sunday we have an important meeting. There is a meal (rumour has it that it is a Roast) followed by a talk outlining the history of the project, where we are currently and also where we are going in the future. I would love everyone who has been involved past and present to be there as well as those who would like to be involved. I am hoping it will be fun and inspiring. You need to tell Teresa that you would like a place. - (Dave Barlow says write plaice and then NO chips)
Hope to see you on Sunday at 1.30pm at King's Church.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Hampers for those on benefits

I know of a number of churches who at Christmas provide hampers for those on benefits. I find it such a great idea. The newfrontiers church in Hillingdon have got involved with Jesus House as they did just this. I came across a fascinating clip from the politics show on Matt Hosier blog (a superb blog by the way!) which is entitled Crazy World. Have a look!

Everything Conference

You may have noticed that I have not been advertising the caring for the poor conference this year - that is because it is not happening and has left me to concentrate on other things.
A conference that is running this year is Everything and it is really worth having a look at the fab website for all the information.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Feast Statistics

Here are the latest statistics for the Feast. This follows a really busy evening on Wednesday.

Total number of people who have been to the Feast since it started in January 2002 - 961

Total who have been to King's for a Sunday service - 139 (14.46%)

Total number who have stayed in the housing project - 59.

So we are closing in on the 1000th different person to attend the Feast. Obviously it is about individuals and we are blessed with individuals - this week 'Jeff the Ref' proved that everyone is uniquely made!

Friday, 15 January 2010

London Leaders

I spoke at the gathering of Leaders from the newfrontiers churches in London about the call of scripture to care for the poor. Caring for the poor is far more than a short lived campaign we must build churches with visionary leadership and communities that have caring for poor in it's DNA. Churches that are prepared for the issues facing our societies.

I suggested 5 ways that leaders can respond.
1. Ask God to give you a heart for the poor. When was the last time you stopped and had a cup of tea with someone who is obviously in need?
2.Visit places where the poor are being cared for. Get inspired!
3. Get your hands dirty - make cups of tea at a local drop in.
4. Preach about it - preferable after the first 3 points.
5. Be ambitious, there are so many opportunities in this city. Light a beacon and people will find you.

If we are going to change our nation it must include the poor and working class. This means we must pay the cost, reach out and communicate the gospel of Christ in a way that ALL people can understand.

Friday, 8 January 2010

'All is quiet on New Year's day'

Well December rushed by with no blogging. There was no short of excitement with the Caring Christmas Trees project. The final total for trees sold was 283 which was a fab outcome. We managed to get national press coverage when we had a mention in the Guardian Magazine.

By comparison New Year has felt very quiet! However this Sunday we have the volunteer feedback session which will be fun and very helpful as we plan next years tree project.

But for now there is much to work on - next week I am speaking at the London Leaders (newfrontier churches) on the subject of working with the poor. Then there is ongoing training for the volunteer key workers and helping the residents keep on track! Also we are planning this year's trip to Chepstow with letters going out today to invite about 50 people for the three day holiday.

At the Feast on Wednesday I invited people to come to church, explaining that you don't have to dress differently to how you do on Wednesday evening, that there will be people there that you know - basically it is a safe place to come to - I even explained (in response to questions) that you could come to church (even) if you were not baptised or a Christian! Afterwards one girl asked if she could come to church because when she was young, her Dad had read the bible to her and she still remembered the truth. Hopefully she will make it this week.

The church must shine like a beacon (of hope, of good news, of mercy etc) to all those around.